The Portland-based organizer of an annual global seafood processing expo scheduled for this month in Boston has postponed the event indefinitely because of growing concerns about the coronavirus.

Diversified Communications made the decision Tuesday, less than a week after telling exhibitors and attendees that the event would go on even as nearly 150 exhibitors from China pulled out due to concerns about the virus, also known as COVID-19.

“After many weeks of monitoring the evolving situation around COVID-19 and evaluating the full spectrum of feedback we received among hundreds of calls and emails, we have decided that the 40th edition of Seafood Expo North America/Seafood Processing North America will not take place as scheduled in March and is postponed while we look at other options,” the company said in a statement on its website.

Diversified Communications has locations throughout the world, but its U.S. operating division is headquartered and employs 200 people in Portland, who produce 24 annual conferences and exhibitions each year and manage online trade publications and magazines, as well.

The company said it is committed to finding a location and time for another event in North America. The seafood expo hosts more than 1,000 exhibitors each year and is a major draw for the industry.

Last week, Diversified’s group vice president, Liz Plizga, told the Press Herald that organizers were well prepared.

“In producing global events, we’re always focused on things that could impact the event, so we know to expect the unexpected, especially when you have people coming in from so many different countries,” Plizga said.

Since then, coronavirus has started to slowly spread throughout the U.S. and has led to at least nine deaths in Washington state. Globally, more than 3,000 people have died and 90,000 have been infected, according to the World Health Organization.

Plizga told Seafoord Source, one of Diversified’s online publications, that the decision to postpone was “incredibly difficult.” She said the company hopes to reschedule and likely will make a decision by mid-April. Exhibitors and visitors who have paid can roll over fees to that event or to next year’s event in Boston.

“We’re looking at all our options to host an event in 2020,” Plizga said. “We want to do the right thing for our industry and ensure everyone has the business opportunities they typically find at our events.”

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